Cleveland County Conservation District
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Helping People Reconnect To Our Environment

EcoLogue

THE LONG HAUL

Posted on September 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I have often said that my mind works in mysterious ways, for instance last week I was stuck behind a trash truck and as the not so gentle smell drifted towards me I started to wonder, "How much food is in that truck?".

Now I know that other things can contribute to the smell, used diapers for instance, but it's mostly food. And from there my mind was off and running. I started to make up scenarios in my head about what happened to put the food in the trash; burnt meals, sell by date rejects, left overs, new recipes that went horribly wrong, or produce that was left to become someone's High School experiment.

Then my mind jumped to the cost of that wasted food. How many food dollars were in that truck, how much does it cost the city to clean the trucks, does the food lead to other issues at the landfills such as scavengers? Who pays to control them? What about the health of the workers? Is their health affected due to transporting all this rotting food?

I don't have the answers to any of these questions, so unfortunately they will have to remain a mystery. What I do know is none of that food heading to the landfill belongs to me, I compost! And because I compost, I have healthy soil, a clean trash can and happy worms. For me, composting is where it's at, and I'm in it for the Long Haul. My mind can rest a little easier because I also know that I'm not alone, more and more people are practicing composting at home, and that is a big load off my mind!

-Chris Ward

THE YARD CONNECTION

Posted on April 19, 2013 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

 You know how I am always saying "It is all connected"?  I am talking about more than water to soil to air to life.  I am talking about you......yes, YOU.  I can see you there trying to hide behind your laptop eating from your secret stash of black market Twinkies.  Don't worry, I'm not going to "out" you in this post.  As a matter of fact, we will use code names, you can call me, Oh Great One and I will call you, Les Moore.

Here is the low down Les, humans were not created in a vacuum and although I have some relatives who would disagree, the world does not revolve around us.  And with the exception of a few Grizzly Adams types, most of us adhere to the idea that there is safety in numbers, therefore communites were born.  But, somewhere along the lines, we lost the ability to co-exist with our environment, we lost our sense of stewardship.

This is where you come in Les.  Did you realize that you play an important role in the stage production called, "EARTH".  That although you have minor role, (3rd guy from the left in the chorus) your individual actions DO make a difference to the outcome?  That if each of us, one by one, made one small change that it could eventually lead to a Community Impact instead of an individual one and we would end up singing a different tune? 

Now, I know what you are thinking, "But, Oh Great One if my selected change was to use a 110 gallon Rain Barrel System and I used 20% less municipal water, and all my neighbors did as well, then the City would reduce staff and that could eventually lead to a collapse of the World's economy, and entire nations would disappear into history".  Somehow, I don't see that happening and I think that you're fairly safe.  But your daily choices whether for the environmental good or bad, do have an impact. You could make yourself crazy trying to work it out, or, you could get two rain barrels with the hope that somewhere, someone is getting a job producing, shipping, converting, selling or setting up rain barrel systems due to the increase in demand.

Let me put it another way, if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  Does it really matter, because the forest felt the impact.  We are not the be all and end all to this planet, we have one small role that makes up the chorus and since we are responsible for the majority of environmental disharmony, we have to make some changes.  It doesn't matter if you decide to stop using plastic bags, green clean, practice water conservation, buy a bike, or all of the above, any or all of these will make a difference.

Will the Earth stop spinning on it's axis if you don't make any changes?  No, I don't believe so.  Besides, my daughter tells me that it's happened once already, the day I told her that she was no longer allowed to use the Dryer and she had to hang her laundry outside.  Her world collapsed but we survived, although it was touch and go for a while.  What do you have to lose by trying, because Les Moore you are the lesson for today....... Less is More!

-Chris Ward

RANDOM ACTS OF TREEHUGGING

Posted on March 25, 2013 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

  Okay, it's not like I walk up to strange trees and feel an overwhelming urge to hug them......well, not often enough to be labeled the town's weird tree lady.

But, I do have a deep respect for trees.  It fills me with awe knowing that we have trees in our country that were already old when the Vikings landed on our shores.  These trees bared witness to the birth of a new republic; they lived in the time of Lincoln.  We have trees over 370 feet tall, which I imagine if you were to climb to the top, it must feel like touching the face of God.  

Trees have played an important role in my life long before I became an environmentalist.  I have great memories of the tire swing at my grandparents, long summer days of looking up into the canapy of that giant elm, it was a living kaleidoscope of light, color and movement.  I remember building the best fort in the world in a neighborhood tree, bach when boys were gross and weren't allowed in our Girls Only Club.  Then there was the large Sycamore that became the Starship Enterprise during recess at school, and my proudest moment, when I was selected to play the Captain for a day.  I remember gathering pecans at my uncle's place for pies and sand plums for my Grandma's jelly.  I stole  apples from a neighbor's yard, whose name I won't disclose because although he suspects it was me, he didn't have access to a DNA lab to prove it.  He still asks me about it, and he is still mad.  I received my first kiss under an old mimosa tree when I decided boys weren't as gross as I had previously thought.  My dad owned a Greenhouse in Norman that was named after the two giant Pin Oaks in the front.  It is now a Real Estate office, but I still mourn the loss of one of those oaks, it was an old friend who kept my secrets.

I still spend time with trees, they have become part of our family and we are busy building new memories.  There is something kind of spiritual about lying under a tree.  Watching the light come and go through the swaying limbs, hearing birds singing and listening to the wind as it grently rustles the leaves.  It is beauty in it's purest form.  Poetry in motion.  I am still young enough to enjoy the Mulberry tree swing with our Chloe and old enough to enjoy the nap that soon follows in the tent we hung in the same tree.  We will watch movies in our backyard this summer using the Crabapple tree and an old sheet.  My husband and I sometimes eat dinner under the chandelier that hangs from one of our Crape Myrtles. 

Trees bring so much to my life that I sometimes forget how important they are to us and our environment.  They breath, we breath.  They bloom, we eat. Their leaves keep the temperature in our cities down and help reduce sound.  Their roots keep our soils in place and aerated so ground water can find its way.  They play a major role in nature's water quality systems. Their very exsistance brings the birds and bugs that I need to pollinate my plants.  And you already know how much I love my compost, which wouldn't be the same without the leaves.

My love and admiration for trees knows no bounds, so is it any wonder that from time to time a spontaneous act of tree hugging occurs?  This week Oklahoma celebrates Arbor Week, in other words, this is the one week that it is socially acceptable with hugging a tree without too many odd glances.  You can observe Arbor Week by taking a hike, buying a tree, supporting a tree organization or volunteering your time to plant trees in public places.  Those are all great ways to show your support, but if you see a tree that reminds you of your childhood, go ahead and give it a squeeze.  You don't have to exchange contact information or make a committment of any kind. If anyone sees you, simply tell them that you are providing a community service in celebration of Arbor Week, making sure that all our trees feel loved, valued and needed.  Before you go out performing your tree supporting endeavors, let me leave you with this blessing, "May the Forest be with You" in all that you do this week.  Happy Arbor Week!!

-Chris 

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND

Posted on February 22, 2013 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)

  Where do you find inspiration?  What inspires you to take a stand, to make a change or to take another look?  I have found inspiration in many things; sunsets, random conversations, listening to my thoughts and in this instance, a song and a memory.  Earlier this week I took a trip to Lake Thunderbird, which is the primary source of drinking water for our community, and since we are currently suffering from a sever drought and water crisis not seen since the 30's, I wanted to tour the lake and take a look for myself.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing, where was all the water?  As we continued around the lake, we encountered less and less water and more closure signs.   I was thinking that this feeling of shock and hopelessness must have been what my grandparents felt during the Dust Bowl and drought some 80 years ago.  But then something kind of wonderful happened, a memory of my Grandma.   I could see her clear as day, in her kitchen kneading bread when a song came over the radio, Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land".  It was her favorite song and she always sang along with Woody.   So, there I was, standing on the Alameda bridge looking over the north side searching for water, and I can hear my Grandma sing her favorite song.  Then another memory popped in, my Grandpa holding my hand and walking across a field on our way to check his livestock, and as we walked I asked him if he owned all this land.  "No", he said. "My name is on the paper, but the land owns me, it's my responsibility, it's yours too and don't you forget it".   

I had found my inspiration when I didn't even know I was looking for it.  I am a conservationist, but this drought had drained me as well.  I was coming to believe that nothing was going to change, and that there was nothing more that I could do.  I didn't know it, but I was giving up.  Now some of you might believe that it was my subconscious, but I like to think that it was my grandparents giving me a boot up the backside.  This land IS your land and it is my land, it is the promise and the responsibility that was given to us.  This land provides for us without asking anything more than that we are good stewards.  It asks that we step up and take responsibility and every now and then it reminds us of who is really in control.  This drought is devastating and there is nothing that we can do to fight it, but there is plenty we can do to survive it, and some good can happen as well.  Because if everything has a silver lining, then all the water conservation and water quality discussions happening right now on a global scale, is our silver lining.  Now is the time to talk about it, to be proactive instead of reactive.  We can learn more about water conservation and what we can do and then do it.  We can find our voices and tell everyone that we know how to conserve & protect our water and our land and in doing so we are fulfilling our responsibility, our promise if you will when we decided to take over.

We are all stewards and we have to keep reminding ourselves of that, through the lean times and through the times of plenty, that is what my Grandpa was trying to tell me. The land owns us, from the Redwood forests to the Gulf Stream Waters, this land was made for you and me.  Thanks, Grandpa, I won't forget again it, I won't get discouraged and I won't stop saying it.  You can tell Grandma she can stop singing now.

-Chris Ward

TINY BUBBLES

Posted on July 16, 2012 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

  Have you ever seen that movie, "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble"? Well, we all live in a bubble it's just on a world size scale.  Our upper atmosphere ozone is a protective layer wrapped around the Earth, think of it as a natural bubble wrap.  However, ground level ozone is an area of potential air pollution, a bubble within the bubble. 

Ground level ozone is created when sunlight reacts to volatile organic compounds (VOC's) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx).  The higher the levels of VOC's and NOx the more dangerous the air pollution.  Gas powered engines are a key source of these harmful pollutants, and this type of ozone is the primary component of smog.  Essentially we are breathing in our own excesses.

Those of us who live in Central Oklahoma have already seen our fair share of Ozone Alerts this year and the season continues, you can expect many more.  From May until September the weather is perfect for ground level ozone; light winds, high temps and low cloud cover.  This throws a tiny bubble around us that makes our own generated emissions more dangerous than ever. There are too many of these tiny bubbles in our country; Tulsa, Dallas, Ft. Worth, LA.  The list is sadly a long one.  The Ozone Alert is a heads up; it is telling you that the stars are aligned to cause maximum chaotic pollution that could not only effect our environment but your personal health and the health of your loved ones.  It lets you know that it is time to control your emissions more on this day than any other.

When an Ozone Alert has been announced it would be beneficial if you would use gas powered engines as little as possible if at all.  Carpool, walk, bike or take CART.  Skip errands, make calls and use the internet instead.  Don't use the drive-thru, park and go in, better yet, bring your lunch.  If you have gas powered lawn equipment, postpone your yard maintenance on that day, don't light up that outdoor grill. And finally, be proactive, plant another tree.

I love this great big bubble Earth, but I have to admit, I am not thrilled that I have to deal with this trapped pollution of ours.  I also love the smaller bubble we call Oklahoma and don't ever want us to get to the point that we can see, smell or touch our air.  I guess it comes down to this question, "what would you be willing to do protect your bubble", yeah......me too.  

THE FINAL FRONTIER

Posted on May 2, 2012 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

   Conservation, the final frontier.  These are the voyages of the Cleveland County Conservation District.  It's ongoing mission; to preserve our world, to seek out new ideas and new circumventions, to boldly educate so our children can have a better planet than previous generations had before.  Do, doo, do,do,do, do dodo, la la la.... you get the idea.

Star Trek was ahead of its time. Their concept of the future and its conveniences were very attractive, they created and technology followed. We move Warp Speed into the future, and we left something behind. We forgot to develop plans to deal with our electronics when they come to the end of their usefulness. By the time a product is being marketed, the updated model is being developed.  That is as it should be; progress has allowed us to be safer, live longer and has opened the world so that we can learn from each other. However, do you have a Waste Management Plan for your Blu Ray?   Have you made funeral arrangements for your IPad?

It is estimated that every year we produce 25 million tons of e-waste and currently the industry isn't designing their products with a long life span in mind, and most electronics are made with toxic materials.  Progress moves a little slower when it comes to our waste, but we are catching up.  Manufacturers such as Apple, Dell, HP, Panasonic and so many more are developing "Take Back" programs.  Retailers are getting into the groove, for instance, Best Buy will accept any brand of electronics for recycling and have an outstanding program that uses Recyclers that do not use landfills or ship old electronics overseas.  But more needs to be done.  Wouldn't it be great if your household only needed one or two chargers?  One charger for your cell phones no matter what brand, one charger for laptops, calculators or IPads.  One charger that would last for years no matter what electronic devise needs to be charged.  What about TVs, computers and DVD players that were easily and cheaply repaired or upgraded, so a single unit could keep up with progress in technology without requiring endless purchases?  To quote Spock, all of our electronics need to be built to "Live long and Prosper".    

While we are waiting for innovators to catch up with our e-waste, what do we do with it responsibly?  Well first, don't put into the dumpster.  Remember all those toxic elements?  They can easily end up in our water and soil. If the item is still usable; donate it.  If the product manufacturer has a "Take Back" program look on their website for instructions to send it back to them.  Take it Best Buy or to an E-Waste Drop Off Event.  Check the website, www.e-stewards.org for a local responsible Recycler.  Members of E-Stewards have to adhere to strict, high standards and do not export e-waste.

On May 5th at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, from 8 am until 4 pm a FREE e-cycling drop off event that is open to ALL Oklahomans will take place.  To find out which electronics will be accepted, please visit www.keepoklahomabeautiful.com .   

Progress may be slow but it is inevitable, we will eventually have across the board standards to deal with e-waste and systems in place to recycle all its parts.  We have to work together; after all we all live on this great big Starship called, Earth, and some things Scotty can't fix alone.  One last piece of advice, if you are a member of the landing party investigating conservation, step up and be a main player, be a star, get your hands dirty.  Don't be an extra out on the side lines; it never seems to end well for them.   

CELEBRATE SOIL & WATER STEWARDSHIP WEEK

Posted on April 25, 2012 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

  Conservation Districts across the country celebrate Soil & Water Stewardship Week from April 29th - May 6th. This year our theme is "Soil to Spoon".  If you think about it, everything kind of hangs on the health of our natural resources; food, drinking water, industry and even the economy.  So, to celebrate this year's theme for Soil and Water Stewardship Week, I challenge you to play, "Four Degrees to Soil" at home with your family.  The directions are simple, take your favorite food or any meal you can think of and trace it back to the soil, (if you can't trace your food back to the soil in four short steps or less, you may want to review your food choices). For example, without revealing to you my super secret recipe for meatloaf, we will trace a basic recipe. Keep in mind that I grow some of my own vegetables and herbs and I purchase free range meats.

  1. Beef - Cows-grass-soil
  2. Bell Peppers - peppers-soil
  3. Onions - onions-soil
  4. Tomato Sauce - tomatoes - soil
  5. Eggs - Chickens - bugs - plants - soil
  6. Rolled Oats - oats-soil
  7. Herbs & Spices - herbs & spices - soil
  8. Chopped Garlic - garlic-soil

When you look at your food like that, healthy soils become very important to everyone.  Other ways you can celebrate the week; start a vegetable garden and use organic growing methods, support local producers and farmer's markets, compost or worm compost, have a soil test prior to applying fertilizer or recycle and utilize Hazardous Waste Drop Off Events.

Clean water is also important, having access to clean water makes for healthy food.  Some things you can do at home other than those mentioned above to keep our water clean include; implementing water conservation and being aware of your personal water use, using rain barrels and taking your old medications to a drop off points instead of flushing them down the toilet.  

Take a good look at the food on your spoon and think about where it came from and the soils that enabled you to eat your favorite cereal.  Think about all the attention and hard work it takes to keep our soils healthy, and then go find a farmer, give him/her a great big hug and wish them a Happy Soil & Water Stewardship Week.  They deserve it, after all they feed the world, and they more than anyone practice soil stewardship every day.   

SOME THINGS NEED TO BE WASTED!

Posted on April 11, 2012 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Some of us have been waiting all year for this weekend. On Saturday, April 14th the City of Norman is holding their annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event.  The event runs from 9 am until 2 pm, and they accept:

  • Auto Fluids (antifreeze, oil, etc.)
  • Batteries (household, car and rechargeable)
  • Car Tires (without rims)
  • Computers, TVs & other electronics
  • Craft & Hobby Supplies
  • Flammable Solvents (gas, kerosene, etc)
  • Fluorescent Light Bulbs
  • Household Cleaners
  • Medicine (remove personal info)
  • Paint
  • Paint Thinners & Turpentine
  • Pool Chemicals
  • Pesticides, Herbicides & Fertilizers
  • Metal Appliances
  • MUCH, MUCH MORE!

Keep all products in their original containers, DO NOT mix chemicals.  This is a free event, open to the citizens of Norman.

This is the perfect opportunity to research using alternative products as well.  Once you take in your hazardous waste materials, look into making your own cleaning products and organic gardening practices.  Learn more about low VOC products or check out the new rechargeable batteries, they are better than ever!  The District holds Green Cleaning Classes from time to time, so check out our calendar for the next class date.  We have scheduled the third class in our Green Acres Primary School series titled, "Organic Gardening, The Bare Essentials" to be held at the Norman Public Library on May 19th.  To learn more about this class, click on our Workshop tab and sign up!

The Town of Slaughterville is also holding it's annual Community Recycling Day on Saturday, April 21st from 9 am until 2pm.  The citizens of Slaughterville and surrounding areas can drop off oil, filters, antifreeze, aluminum, car batteries, scrap metal, appliances, car and truck tires without rims.  New this year is the E-Waste Collection, there is no charge for citizens of Slaughterville for this portion of the event, citizens from other communities may need to pay a small fee.

Hazardous Waste is well named.  It is a Hazard to our environment and our health to have these materials in our waste stream, so let's all work together to dispose of them the right way.  Clean out your garden sheds, garages and cabinets and let's WASTE 'EM.

WHAT IS IN THE AIR IN HERE?

Posted on February 21, 2012 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Have you ever thought about the quality of the air indoors?  When you are in your car, home, office or school, what is in there with you? A study conducted by the EPA indicates that the level of indoor pollutants may be 2 to 5 times higher than their outdoor pollutant counterparts.  Not only are we bringing more chemical into our homes than in years past, we have tightened up our homes to become more energy efficient. We have closed off all the escape routes these gases and particles used to to leave our homes. We have them trapped, now let's identify them, here are the 10 Most Wanted for crimes against respiration.

1.  Mold 

2.  Mildew

3.  Radon 

4. Carbon Monoxide

5. Volatile Organic Compounds

6.  Formaldehyde

7.  Pests & Pesticides

8.  Cleaning Supplies

9.  Tobacco Smoke

10. Pet Dander

These are in no particular order, they are all equally harmful.  Indoor pollutants cause health problems, diseases, long-term respiratory illnesses and possible death. However, all is not lost, they are some ways to fight back and regain your clean air.

  • Make sure your home is properly ventilated.  On mild days, open windows throughout the home for a good old fashioned "airing".  Use the exhaust fans that lead outdoors in your bathrooms and kitchen when necessary.
  • Service your Heat & AC units regularly.  Change your filters every month when either unit is working or when windows are opened more than 4 hours daily.
  • SMOKE OUTSIDE!
  • Get your chimney swept at least once a year.  Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector if you have a fireplace or gas appliances.
  • Use Green Cleaning Products, dust regularly, vacuum weekly, clean mold and mildew immediately.
  • Adjust your home's humidity to 30-50%.  You can find meters at home improvement stores.  Fix water leaks immediately.
  • Use natural alternatives to pest control.  Wash bedding at least weekly.
  • Use no or at least low VOC products.
  • Keep pets out of bedrooms and away from furniture with fabric. Bath and groom your pets regularly.

Finally, a NASA study proved that many houseplants can remove harmful elements such as trichloroethylene (found in paints, adhesives and inks), Benzene (found in oils & paints) and Formaldehyde (found in cleaning supplies, some insulations and pressed wood products).  The study recommends that an average home of 2,000 sq ft have at least 15 houseplants to help improve the indoor air quality.  Some of the houseplants that are recommended are: Philodendron, English Ivy, Spider Plant, Dracaena, Fig and Peace Lily. Take a look at the list above and see what changes that you can make to lighten your air. Send us an email and let us know what you did to "lighten up".  

*Picture was found on the GreenOptions Website.

WHAT SO PROUDLY WE WAVE

Posted on February 9, 2012 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (2)

 When England's Queen Elizabeth is in residence, her flag is flown at the palace to announce her presence. I also have a flag that announces our presence at home on Saturday mornings; we just call it our laundry.

Several years ago, when we decided to line dry, we bought an umbrella clothes line, a section of PVC pipe and some quick drying cement.  We chose an open area in our back yard in full sun, dug a hole using a borrowed post hole digger, cut the PVC so that it would be about 3" above the ground and cemented it in.  The PVC is a larger circumference than the clothes line pole, so we are able to slide it into the PVC when we want to do laundry and take it out and store it in our garden shed when we are finished.  I am considering building a bed around the pole so that as my laundry is drying, the breeze will brush it against lavenders, lemon verbena or rosemary......bliss.

We have tried to make our laundry as earth friendly as possible, we wash in cold water, I make my own laundry soap using soap nuts, we use vinegar during the rinse cycle, and if water is available, I will use water out of our rain barrels to wash our clothes. But I have to admit, my favorite part is hanging the clothes on the line. I love line drying, and it long ago ceased to be an additional chore.  I like knowing that I am using less electricity to do my laundry that my clothes seem to hold their color, strength and shape longer.  I like the fresh scent that my clothes have without any additional chemicals or perfumes. I also really love the change in my electric bill. It is estimated that 6% of your electric bill is from dryer use, so you will notice a difference in your bill immediately. 

From spring until fall, I hang my laundry outside to dry in our Oklahoma wind.  In the winter, I will hang it outside if the weather is mild and I have racks that I use if it is not.  The racks are beneficial as well because they allow me to add humidity to our dry indoor winter air, my houseplants love it.  Hanging my laundry signals my neighbors that we are available for a chat and inevitably we are offered much needed advice.  This is how I learned to grow lettuce the right way, how to use banana peels to improve my roses and how to hang my shirts so they don't stretch the neckline.  If you think about it, hanging my laundry could actually be my own personal Bat Signal.   Maybe when the Queen is in residence and her flag is flying, she is saying, "Come on over and help me buff the crown jewels", you never know, it works for me. 

MY KITCHEN TRASH, AND OTHER TALES OF WOE

Posted on February 8, 2012 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I thought that I would continue the theme, from last week and discuss a topic that comes up every now and then at our Green Living Classes that I teach.  I am asked at least 5-6 times a year, "what is in your trashcan at home?" So, I had a look.

Here is what I have found in my 13 gallon kitchen trash can and now that I have had to write it down, I have room for improvement.

  • 4 cellophane wrappers from the Ramen Noodles that my husband loves to eat.
  • An abundance of tissues, due to the cold that won't die.
  • One piece of scorched aluminum foil.

That is it.  I stopped putting bags in my trash can when I started to compost and vermicompost.  Since I don't place food waste in the trash can there is nothing in there that can stink or get slimy and gross. A quick clean after dumping and done.  I actually produce so little waste; I called my local city government and asked if I could discontinue my trash service.  Unfortunately, the answer was no, I had to have trash service, bummer!  Now you are asking yourself, if she has so little trash why does she have a trash can in the kitchen?  Good question. I haven't figured out what else to do with the trash can, so for now it stays.

As to how I can improve. I know that I would end up on the next episode of divorce court if after everything else I have asked him to change or give up for the better good of humanity, I then asked him to forego eating his beloved ramen noodles.  I know what you are thinking, that cellophane is #4 plastic and should be recyclable.  Normally I would agree, however, my contact at Waste Management Recycles America which holds the contract for Recycling in Norman tells me that they cannot accept cellophane, it gums up the works.   Same for aluminum trays, foil, plastic wrap and plastic bags (take plastic bags to Lowes, Homeland or Wal-Mart).

Nope, this sacrifice is mine.  I am going to have to purchase handkerchiefs.  This is no small sacrifice either; I suffer from sinus problems, think Niagara Falls in the spring.  It is one of my last intentional hold outs.  When I looked in my trash can this morning in order to give an accurate account, it was tissues as deep as I could see.  We dumped everything out on newspaper, because neither one of us wanted to touch the tissues. So, as soon as I go through my current box, I will purchase some handkerchiefs, or maybe I will make some out of a ripped sheet that I put aside until I could figure out what to do with it. I call this upcycling, my son calls it Hippiecycling.  Either way a king size sheet just might make enough handkerchiefs to get me through a day......I hope.

NOTHING LASTS FOREVER

Posted on January 26, 2012 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

I remember my first pair of "big girl" shoes.  my grandparents took me to J.C. Penney where I became the proud owner of a pair of brown buckle shoes; they were beautiful.  I wore them everywhere every day until my grandma sat me down and explained that nothing lasts forever. She took my beautiful shoes that still had some sole, one buckle and a teeny tiny hole in the big toe and THREW THEM AWAY!!!  It was a traumatic experience that set me on my current path in life.  After years of careful, professional research, I am proud to report that my grandma was WRONG - Hooah!

I have this great poster in my office that is produced by the DEQ called, "Litter Lasts", it lists some of our everyday items and how long research dictates it will take them to break down and return to the environment.  I am assuming that they mean if they were left abandoned in an open field and not buried under tons of other stuff.  Some of the items on the poster are: wools socks - 1 year, foam cup - undetermined, aluminum can - 200/500 years, cotton towel - 1/5 months, tin can - 100 years, plastic bottles - 100/200 years and my very favorite, a plastic 6 pack holder - 450 years.  I hang this 11x16" poster over the office recycling bins.  It is a gentle reminder to everyone that recycling matters.  It reminds me to reuse items as many times as possible before recycling and to pay closer attention to my purchases.

I don't know if I should feel happy or very sad knowing that somewhere in a dump in Pittsburg Co. a pair of beautiful, however slightly unwearable brown buckle shoes are still waiting to decompose.  Some things in life do last forever or at least long enough that none of us will be around to mark the occasion on a calendar.  When it comes to litter, that is too long for me, how about you?

THE HAZARD SIGNS

Posted on January 25, 2012 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (1)

I have an old tote in my garage marked "Hazardous Waste".  This is where I put things that have to be disposed of somewhere other than in the trash.  For those of you that know me, you know that I garden organically, I make my own cleaning supplies, I own a plumbing snake to avoid those chemicals, and I couldn't get my husband to paint if I offered him a free tip to Europe.  So, in my tote I have 2 batteries I found in the street, a CFL bulb, a wheelbarrow tire and an old calculator.  When the tote is full, I will take everything but the e-waste to the Hazardous Waste Drive Thru (no, I am not taking a shot at fast food.......ok, maybe a little shot).

According to the EPA, hazardous waste is any waste that is dangerous or potentially harmful to our health or to the environment.  These are things that you do not want finding their way into our soil and water.  You may have more than you knew, anything in your home that says, "caution, danger, keep out of reach of children, poison, hazardous, use in a well ventilated area, may cause skin irritation, could be fatal if swallowed or may cause severe burns on contact" would most definitely be considered hazardous waste.  This includes; cleaning supplies, some laundry cleaners, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, gas, oil, auto fluids, CFL bulbs, pool chemicals, paint thinners and batteries.  You can find more environmentally friendly substitutes for most of these things.

If you are a resident of Moore you have it made. They have access to the OKC Household Hazardous Waste Collection and Disposal Facility located at 1621 S. Portland.  As a resident, you are allowed to drop off up to 7.5 gallons a month for free.  Bring your water bill as proof of residency; pull into the bay and a technician takes your stuff.  They accept batteries, cooking oil, auto fluids including gas, paints, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, CLF's, cleaning supplies & pool chemicals.  Visit them at: www.okc.gov/services/hh_waste/index.html

If you are a Norman resident, they also have a great program.  Once a year in the spring, the City of Norman holds a Hazardous Waste Drop Off Event.  During this event, they will accept: auto fluids, batteries, tires, E-Waste, kerosene, CLF's, cleaning supplies, paints, pool chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. One of the best side benefits to this event - they collect viable white latex paint and mix it together then offer it free to the public in 5 gallon buckets!  The City of Norman also accepts tires, motor oil, antifreeze and cooking grease at the Transfer Station year round.  For more information about this other programs with the City visit, www.greennorman.org

The Town of Slaughterville also holds a Recycling Event each spring that allows their citizens to bring in used motor oil, tires, old appliances and car batteries along with the recycling that they collect on that day.

So go and get yourself an old tote (finding a 5 gallon kitty litter container in one of the plastic dumpsters at the Recycling Drop Off Center is perfect), gather your hazardous waste and sleep a little better at night knowing that you are a Superhero, (just like HazMat Man pictured above) but without the funky cape and tights.

THE ATTACK OF THE KILLER USED TIRE

Posted on January 25, 2012 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Americans produce over 290 million tires every year! In Oklahoma, we have enacted the Used Tire Recycling Program, for every tire that you purchase; you pay a small fee per tire to recycle that replaced tire.  This fee pays for the collection and recycling.  According to the EPA, current studies do not indicate that used tires are harmful to the soil.  The volatile compounds that off gas on new tires decreases and stops over time, so recycled tires are used to produce Tire Derived Fuel, rubberized asphalt, playground cover and mulch.  To extend the life of our tires, check the tire pressure once a week and adjust it, maintain alignment, rotate and balance your tires according to their scheduled maintenance plan.  Not only will this allow your tires to last longer, it will improve gas mileage and auto emissions.

 Even though tire recycling occurs at the tire dealership, tire dumping is still a big problem that can become a hazardous waste nightmare.  Tires are made with an assortment of toxins that are released if the tire catches fire, not only does this cause very harmful air pollution problems, the melted tire lava can contaminate our groundwater.  Dumped tires are also a health hazard; they provide the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, rats and skunks.  If you see a tire dump, please report it to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality at 1-800-522-0206.

Tires can be reused in numerous ways before they are finally recycled.  As you can see in the photo above taken in Tokyo they make interesting trash art.  They are the perfect garden swing for children, obstacle courses, raised beds, compost and worm bins, bumpers for the sides of boats and planter for potatoes.  To make a potato planter; fill the first tire with soil, plant a seed potato, when it grows above the width of the tire, add another tire, fill with soil, cover all but the top leaves and keep going as long as it is stable.  You will find a huge harvest of potatoes.